I spent this past weekend in Milwaukee and attended a little blogging conference for Midwest bloggers. At the the first ever Blogger Bazaar Milwaukee I connected with fellow bloggers from Chicago, Minneapolis, Madison, and of course Milwaukee. One of the bloggers, Maya of Charmingly Styled, has launched a campaign today called #RealBloggerBeauty. Maya developed the idea for the project last winter at Moda Magazine’s University of Wisconsin Fashion Week Blogger Panel. As one of the featured bloggers on the panel, Maya was posed the question, “How would you use your influence [with your readers] to do something that supports a cause that’s important to you?” Her response was that “[she] would want to do something opposing the perfectionism that bloggers (and everyone) is striving to achieve by sharing personal and perfectly imperfect experiences.” Ultimately, what Maya is doing with the #RealBloggerBeauty campaign is starting a conversation among bloggers, women, and everyone about perfectionism and digital personas.
This conversation is very near and dear to my heart. Our generation, Generation Y, is the first generation to be faced with the challenge of creating a digital persona. Now, grappling with typical challenges like bullying and body image are no longer limited to our private journals. They are part of a public forum on the Internet and in social media. I feel both blessed and cursed to be a part of this generation. My job as a freelancer would look very different if the Internet and social media did not exist. ARTicles of Clothing Blog would not exist. In a way we are blessed with a medium that allows us to expose and discuss important topics instantly with anyone around the world. It’s really amazing when you actually think about the power of the Internet. But with great power comes great responsibility. As the first generation to embrace these digital platforms, we have been given the great responsibility to carve and shape them.
“No one’s life is always full of ‘Instagram-worthy’ moments, and it’s time to embrace the messes, insecurities, and struggles of life together.” – Maya, Charmingly Styled
What if the Internet and social media were places to truly showcase our authentic selves and connect with people? I believe this was the original intention behind the Internet and social media – to connect people in different cities, states, and countries who may never have had the opportunity to connect before. It’s unfortunate that a medium meant to connect has in some ways done the opposite and isolated us from being true to ourselves and making genuine connections. Do we have the power to change the trajectory of social media? My answer is yes.
In January, I urged you to set a goal to FEEL GOOD and LOOK GOOD in 2014 by making small changes to your everyday life to produce big results. Shifting the trajectory of social media is a lofty goal, so today, I’m starting with one small step by participating in and promoting the #RealBloggerBeauty campaign. My #RealBloggerBeauty moment is illustrated above through these images of myself over the past eight years.
The first two images depict me in the summer right after my high school graduation and in the fall of my freshman year of college. I gained about 20lbs my senior year of high school, the same year Facebook was launched worldwide. I may or may not have “looked good” at this time, but I certainly didn’t feel good. Yet, I slapped on a fake smile, and tried to create a persona that looked good and felt good on social media. The third image is me at my 21st birthday. I had devoted the summer before my 21st birthday to truly feeling good and looking good. I ended a toxic relationship, lost some weight, and chopped off my hair. I think this third image and the three that follow illustrate me genuinely feeling good and looking good. You probably recognize the final image from a photo shoot I did for ARTicles of Clothing Blog. For a long time I have defined myself as a writer. This is the primary reason starting a blog appealed to me. I’ve never viewed myself as a model or the face of a brand. The simple fact that I executed this photo shoot and showcased the images on a public platform for all the internet to see demonstrates how far I’ve come with my own digital persona over the past eight years.
No matter who you are – a blogger, a woman, everyone – I urge you to join in on the #RealBloggerBeauty campaign and promote the creation of genuine digital personas and connections.